Fitness Focus: 10 Gym Etiquette Rules That Should Never Be Broken

With the arrival of COVID-19 triggering gym closures and stay-at-home orders throughout much of 2020, many health-conscious individuals will be glad to get back into the gym. With an enhanced focus on hygiene and safety in this post-COVID world, we look at 10 gym etiquette rules that should never be ignored.

1. Wipe Down Your Equipment

Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, wiping all traces of sweat from gym equipment was regarded as common courtesy. Today, it is more important than ever. Members should wipe down everything they use, including floormats and exercise balls, as well as barbells and exercise machines.

If you need to leave a used piece of equipment to get cleaning materials, it is good practice to leave something you own on it to indicate that you plan to return. If cleaning materials supplied by the gym run out, you should alert the staff so that they can replenish it.

2. Get Ready at Home

Before the pandemic, many of us headed to the gym straight after work, with some squeezing in a quick workout during their lunchbreak.

COVID-19 triggered a mass migration to remote working. Many people continuing to work remotely today, meaning that getting ready for the gym and showering at home afterwards is less of a hassle, freeing up space in the changing room for those who do not have that option.

3. Adhere to Social Distancing Rules

Many gyms have significantly reduced the number of members they admit at one time to facilitate social distancing. As a result, you may need to book your workout in advance, particularly if you plan to exercise during peak times.

You should always arrive on time to pre-booked workouts. In addition, if you are returning to the gym after a long break or trying out a new gym, it is a good idea to ask the gym for an overview of the layout, enabling you to plan your workout in advance.

It is vital to adhere to social distancing rules. Even without the added risks associated with COVID-19, you should never exercise in close proximity with another member. Not only does getting in other people’s personal space make them uncomfortable, but it also increases the risk of accidents.

It is a good idea to make it clear to other gym members where you are working out and what equipment you are using. If you need floorspace for stretches or to swing a kettlebell, claim sufficient space to do that before you start exercising.

4. Don’t Hog Equipment

In a full capacity gym, equipment is like diamonds, particularly limited equipment like bench press racks and squat racks. If there is no one around, feel free to take your time, but in a full gym, it is important avoid commandeering equipment and creating a bottleneck.

5. Don’t Grunt

Groaning every time you finish a rep may feel satisfying, but it will not help you lift more. In addition, every noise you make distracts other people, breaking their concentration and potentially spoiling their workout.

6. Be Flexible about Your Routine

When exercising at peak times, it is important to retain flexibility with regards to your routine. Rather than loitering next to the machine you want to use, tapping your foot, changing up your routine would be far more effective.

Not only will this be faster and more congenial, but it prevents you from getting stuck in the same routine. This will enable you to challenge yourself in new ways and keep workouts more interesting.

7. Put Things Back

The quickest way to blacken your reputation in the gym forever is by failing to re-rack free weights after use. Keeping the gym orderly not only enhances user experience, but also decreases the risk of accidents — for you and everyone else.

Returning weights to the rack usually takes a matter of seconds. Using a farmer’s carry when returning weights, particularly dumbbells, provides a bonus trap and shoulder workout.

8. Don’t Block the Mirror

Weightlifters often watch themselves as they lift. This is not vanity, but to ensure they are lifting with proper form. It is good etiquette to avoid blocking their line of vision.

9. Watch Your Breathing

COVID-19 is spread through virus particles released in the breath. It is impossible to determine whether or not a person has COVID-19 simply by looking at them.

Most people struggle to workout wearing a mask. Many responsible gym owners provide barriers between equipment, reducing the risk of members breathing in airborne particles. However, it is vital for members to keep their breathing under control, playing their part in reducing the risk of infection.

10. If You Feel Unwell, Stay at Home

If you feel under the weather, you should stay away from the gym. While you may not have COVID-19, better safe than sorry. You may be at greater risk for contracting if you are already sick in any case. And if you feel up to it, there are always ways to exercise at home.

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Douglas Healy is a Springfield, Missouri-based attorney with nearly 20 years of legal experience.

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Douglas Healy

Douglas Healy

Douglas Healy is a Springfield, Missouri-based attorney with nearly 20 years of legal experience.

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